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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Takeaways from A&M’s 38-35 loss to No. 10 Ole Miss

Graduate+WR+Ainias+Smith+%280%29+runs+as+he+is+being+tackled+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+vs.+South+Carolina+at+Kyle+Field+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+28%2C+2023.
Photo by Chris Swann/The Battalion

Graduate WR Ainias Smith (0) runs as he is being tackled during Texas A&M’s game vs. South Carolina at Kyle Field on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023.

Through all the ups and downs in this game, the Aggies were just one field goal away from tying the game up against No. 10 Ole Miss, but came up just short. Here are some key takeaways from the close game:
A&M’s defense got shut down, including the esteemed line
Though the A&M secondary held up well over the past two weeks against Tennessee and South Carolina, Ole Miss blew its coverage wide open. Senior Ole Miss wide receiver Tre Harris had his best game of his football career, roasting Aggie defenders for 213 yards on 11 receptions. Zone, single coverage and even double coverage didn’t slow down the Louisiana Tech transfer as he caught everything in sight, resorting to one-handed catches at times.
Feeding Harris the ball was junior quarterback Jaxson Dart, who finished the game with 387 yards and two touchdowns. Just two yards shy of his season-high, Dart has his offensive line to thank. The Ole Miss offensive line did its job as they gave up just one sack to an Aggie defensive line that was No. 1 in the country in sacks. They were also able to keep A&M star defensive players, like junior linebacker Edgerrin Cooper and sophomore defensive lineman Walter Nolen, at bay.
You have to keep your head in the game
Junior DL Shemar Turner was the turning point at two instances in the game, good and bad. The first one came whenever the Rebels were on the verge of going up 10 points with a field goal in the second quarter. Then, Turner turned the corner and blocked the attempt, leading to a scoop-and-score by sophomore defensive back Jacoby Matthews.
Turner was a key member of the front seven and helped hold the line against Rebel running back sophomore Quinshon Judkins.
However, he also shot the Aggies in the foot midway through the third quarter. After getting blocked at the line, Turner took exception to sophomore Ole Miss DL Micah Pettus standing over him and took a swing at his groin. Immediately, the action was deemed flagrant and the refs tossed Turner out the game.
The flag was detrimental, as it gave the Rebels a shorter field to work with, which they capitalized on with a quick touchdown, and also meant that the Aggies had to go out there without one of their best defensive players. If Turner didn’t commit the needless penalty, there might have been a different outcome.
This was the best offensive second half for the Aggies this season against a ranked opponent
After a stale first half of offense that was kept close thanks to the defense, coach Jimbo Fisher and sophomore QB Max Johnson seemed to click in the second half.
Though the Maroon and White’s second-half offense has been subpar all season, Johnson and company came out the gates firing. Right off the bat, they marched down the field and were on the 5-yard line, on the verge of scoring and taking the lead. Then, miscommunication between Johnson and graduate WR Ainias Smith led to a costly interception.
Though it led to points on the board for the Rebels, Johnson came right back and responded with a touchdown to his brother, sophomore tight end Jake Johnson.
The run game also cannot go overlooked. The one-two punch of RBs in sophomore Le’Veon Moss and junior Amari Daniels came alive this game. They each were able to break off for long runs and helped spread the field for Johnson to work with. Each running back also scored a touchdown that kept the Aggies in the game.
On a crucial possession, down 31-28 in the fourth quarter, A&M’s offense went to work. Through a good mix of passes and runs, they found themselves in a fourth-and-1 situation and converted it with a Johnson keeper. Daniels churned up yards to bring the Aggies to the 1-yard line and another Johnson keeper gave the Aggies a short-lived lead.
Though ultimately the comeback fell short, a strong offensive second half showing is a small win in the loss and is something Fisher can carry over in the final stretch of games.

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